Empowering occupational therapy practitioners with a playbook of functional tasks to use with their geriatric clients

Planning a Garden (Preparation for Planting a Garden)

Planning a Garden (Preparation for Planting a Garden)

Planning a garden is one of my favorite spring/summer activities to do with my clients. I love hearing about the things they have done in the past, and giving them a chance to engage in an occupation that is so meaningful to many of them.


Assess and develop client’s executive functioning skills


Great for 1:1 treatment – Good for Group/Concurrent Treatment

Time Frame

15-45 minutes

Materials Required

  • Farmer’s almanac or computer with internet access for information about planting, harvesting, and weather patterns
  • Plain paper or graph paper
  • Pencil or pen
  • Ruler and compass, if available
  • Dimensions of a garden area or planter box


  • Measure the dimensions of a garden area or a planter box or determine how many pots are available for planting and what their sizes are


  1. Explain to the client that they are going to plan a garden space including what to plant, where to plan each plant, when to plant each plant, if seeds or seedlings should be planted, and what the care instructions are for the plants after they have been planted. As part of this planning, they will prepare a written guide.
  2. Direct the client to generate a list of fruits and vegetables that could be planted in the garden area.
  3. Ask the client to determine when each identified plant should be planted and if it should be planted as a seed or seedling. Encourage the client to review a farmer’s almanac or find information online about the local conditions including when it is recommended to plant and harvest various plants.
  4. Have the client sketch the available spaces for planting on plain or graph paper. Ask the client to sketch a tentative location for each plant on the paper. Encourage the client to use the farmers almanac or online resources to determine which plants do well planted next to each other and which plants should be planted farther away from each other. If needed, remind the client to observe the physical location of the garden to determine how much sun the area receives.
  5. Ask the client to create a list of care instructions for after each plant is planted. Instructions can include how and when to thin plants, how much water is required, and how much sun is required.

Special Notes

Ideally this activity would be completed in preparation for planting a garden. If that is not possible, the client can complete this activity from descriptions of their home or the therapist’s home.

After you work on planning a garden, check out some of the supplies I found last year to get you started with planting:

Raised planter beds (on wheels and self-watering!)

Mini planter boxes (great for windows!)

A stool (or padded place to kneel)

A basic set of tools

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